And to round-out this Sunday Voyager bonanza!
Flesh and Blood (**½)
This episode started out really well and then fell apart into a shadow of its earlier self. What I found so great about the early parts of the episode was how realistically and rationally everyone was acting, there wasn't a single moment where I questioned why characters were doing what they were doing. Iden was an oppressed individual who wanted to free his people, Shmully didn't trust him at first but was willing to hear him out, Janeway and the Hirogen were willing to work together in order to stop the threat of the holograms. The characters were driving the plot in interesting directions. If this had just been a normal one-part episode then, depending upon the ending, it could have achieved a score of 8 or 9 out of 10.
But at the 37 minute mark the eventual decline into nonsense began. Janeway wouldn't reason with Shmully, the Hirogen in the mess hall rioted for no reason, Janeway wouldn't reason with Iden and Iden wouldn't reason with Janeway. Why did all these things happen? Because the writing staff apparently decided to extend this good one-hour adventure into a feature-length event and that meant that characters had to do dumb things in order to set up the second part. Shmully defected, Iden abducted B'Elanna, more Hirogen show up and act needlessly aggressive. The plot is now driving the characters into doing stupid things.
Then there's Iden's character. In the first part of the episode he is a hero, a man trying to free his people from a ruthless band of hunters. In the second part he turns into megalomaniac who is determined to exact revenge by hunting the hunters. In the first part there is nothing wrong with Iden so Shmully's actions in defecting to him make some form of sense, but in order to make Shmully wrong and Janeway right they do a complete 180 on the character and turn him evil. What happens to Iden is a complete tragedy, his character is reduced to a pointless villain-of-the-week who kills people while spouting one-liners.
The worst part of the episode is the final scene when Janeway decides not to punish Shmully for his actions because she allowed him to grow in the first place. I have two words for that: Thirty Days
. How about just one word: Prey
. By letting Shmully off the hook for an act that would have put a human crewmember in the brig she is essentially saying that holograms are not the equal of humans and need to be given special treatment, and that undermines some of the best parts of this episode. This is one of the worst endings to an episode of Voyager ever.